08 SES 01 A, Professional Development and Global Issues Related to Health and Sustainability
Parallel Paper Session
This paper explores formal and informal health education (HE) in three Kenyan teacher training colleges (TTC) and what this means for student teachers’ health learning. Primary school teachers are one of a few groups of rural health professionals who have a formal education in health, and, therefore, play a crucial role in communicating health in rural Africa, including in Kenya. But how do Kenyan TTCs prepare students for their future role as HE teachers? This paper suggests the term “paradoxical” to understand how health education (HE) is carried out and experienced as contradictory and inconsistent by student teachers who learn about health in Kenyan teacher training colleges (TTC). The paper raises several questions regarding HE and teacher training in Kenya: What does the field of informal HE look like in Kenyan TTCs? How do students learn about health in this setting? Which health competencies are negotiated and produced? Underlying these enquiries is a concern as to whether teacher education in Kenya is a constructive force and a resource via which students become health agents who are able to work on improving primary school children’s health, or whether it mainly is a negative force and a barrier to students’ future HE agency in Kenyan primary schools. The claim is that students, apart from formal HE lessons, also learn about health in non-curricular HE, which influences their actions in tangible ways. I used Bourdieu, medical anthropology and critical, educational theory to understand processes of cultural negotiation and the production of HE discourses and how learning appears as mingling moralities and action competence. This long-term fieldwork used ethnographic methods, including participant observation and interviews, and focused group discussions in three TTCs in Central and Eastern Kenya. The study concludes that, despite institutional norms for HE, students develop critical awareness and action competencies, which means learning to deal with health in a more active, concrete and practical way than what is conveyed in HE lessons.
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